New Model (Child’s Play, 2019)

Childs_Play_2019_PosterThe Child’s Play franchise is seven films in and has a TV series in the making, so when a remake of the 1988 original, it was met with…skepticism. Especially as the film has no real ties to the original film via writer or director.

Here we get the basic story idea.  Andy gets a doll that turns out to be dangerous and homicidal.

Here, Andy is a bit older.  His mother gets a Buddi Doll that has AI and can connect to your Smart Home devices.  It was returned as defective, and Andy’s mom takes it to give her son, as Andy is becoming more and more withdrawn. At first, the quirks do not seem to be to big a deal…until Chucky tries to kill the family cat after it hurts Andy.  Andy forbids Chucky from killing.  And for awhile, they become close friends.

But after some other kids discover that Chucky can swear and be generally rude, they want to hang with Andy.  It is only after Chucky murders someone that they all realize how dangerous Chucky actually is.

And a lot of the film is pretty effective.  I like Andy and his mom. And I think the AI take actually works in some interesting ways. Chucky is not inherently homicidal.  He becomes increasingly so, desensitized by his environment and working as a stalker.   He is not killing people out of a love for murder…but rather a warped ideal of his relationship to Andy.  And while this comes at the sacrifice of Dourif’s memorable characterization, I really appreciate the new approach.

Andy’s friends are a bit obnoxious, and honestly, it seems like much of the film they made sure to give Chucky victims who were pretty morally reprehensible.  I mean, there is only one character he kills that I genuinely liked.  I appreciated the attempt they made with Brian Tyree Henry’s Detective Norris, making him a friendly face in story…but the character is kind of dull (which is definitely not Henry’s fault, we saw him be pretty wonderful in Into the Spiderverse in a similar role.

And…well…Chucky’s design should have gone through a few more revisions.  He looks genuinely goofy sometimes.

But I found myself largely entertained by the film and felt it has far more positives than negatives.  I walked out feeling pretty satisfied with a film that I confess to having not had a lot of hope for.

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